Nityanand Kumar Rai was on a pleasure trip with his friends to the famous Kakolat waterfall in Bihar’s Nawada district when a group of motorcycle borne youths waylaid them.
Nityanand, 23, was identified and forcibly taken to a nearby village where he was beaten and forced to marry a teenage girl on gunpoint late night on June 23. Nityanand’s two friends were also abducted and held hostage. The two friends were released only after Nityanand’s marriage was solemnized. The boy, however, was still held captive. He was rescued only after cops were tipped off by the friends.
Known as Pakadua Vivah, wherein grooms are kidnapped and made to marry under duress, there was nothing unusual in Nityanand’s marriage.
Pakadwa Vivah or Marriage by abduction follows a simple tradition where a prospective groom is first identified and then kidnapped. He is made to tie the nuptial knot at gunpoint.
And the numbers are in fact growing. Bihar witnessed 4,301 kidnapping for marriage in 2018. It was 3678 in 2017 and 3070 in 2016. While abduction of girls for marriage also figure in these statistics, it also includes what is colloquially known as Pakadwa Vivah in Bihar. Many of the marriages, in fact, also survive.
Nityanand or his family, however, is unwilling to accept the girl with whom he was forcibly married.
In his police FIR, Nityanand has given details about his abduction and also how he was forcibly taken to one Singhana village and mercilessly beaten. The torture stopped only when he agreed to tie the nuptial knot with the Class 10 student of a Nawada school.
“The abduction of boys for marriage is a direct consequence of social evils like dowry. It is a rearguard action from the bride’s family, which finds itself under a great material load of arranging decent marriages. In a traditionally patriarchal society like we have in Bihar, marriages have long become a money-minting enterprise for the boy’s parents. So, families without wealth to arrange decent dowry resort to desperate measures like abducting a suitable bridegroom for their daughter’s marriage,” says Dr Ashok Priyadarshi, a teacher in Nawada, a district infamous for such marriages.
“A boy is usually beaten mercilessly after his abduction. He is also shown firearms and warned. Then he is taken to his bride’s home, where his future in-laws try to calm him. The boy, without any choice, accepts to wear the wedding headgear, called a Mauri, which is taken as a symbol of his submissive acceptance. Many boys are known to have fought fiercely, but every kidnapped boy eventually relents under duress, sometimes at gunpoint. In almost all such cases, the villagers extend support to the girl’s family. The ceremony is videographed so that the tapes can be used as evidence later,” said a police officer.
Notwithstanding the criminality involved, the villagers are known to support the questionable custom in Bihar.
In fact, even priests of village temples-where marriages are solemnised as happened in the case of Nityanand-fully cooperate with the girl’s family.
The practice has technically been illegal for years, but the law rarely has been enforced. Brutal as the custom is, it is widely perceived as practical. “Every good marriage begins in tears,” a saying goes.
“Most people don’t care it’s illegal because there is a very high possibility of reconciliation. The boy’s family frets and fumes after the marriage but only to raise a dowry demand. Assured that the boy is now theirs, the girl’s parent are also willing to settle things by offering one-fourth of the usual dowry that they would have had to offer if the boy was not already married,” said a police officer in Patna.